Season of the Hunt Event Coming to Black Desert Online Next Week

If you were thinking that now is a great time for BDO to have an in-game event Kakao agrees and has announced that the Season of the Hunt event is coming next week.

The event will begin next week on September 25th after the regularly scheduled maintenance. It will be broken up into several stages over the following three weeks with something different happening each week. It all begins with a Trina Knights First Captains Support kit giveaway for players level 56 and 58. The kit will give players high tier weapons and accessories.

On the 25th all BDO players will get the Fever Time Boost giving players up to +200% Combat EXP and +30% Skill EXP boosts. This boost will be available until October 8th.

Special challenges will be available to players throughout the first two weeks of the event. These will reward players for playing BDO for a certain duration. Adventurers can obtain special items such as [Event] High-Quality Draught Box, [Event] Extra Combat EXP Scroll, [Event] High-Quality Food Box, and [Event] Item Collection Increase Scrolls.

Also, during the first two weeks of the event a World Boss drop rate boost will be active. This will double the drop rate for boss items from Garmoth, Vell, Kzarka, Nouver, Kutum, Offen Tett, and Karnada.

All of this is leading up to October 8th when the Kratuga Ancient Ruins will open. This is a new high level grinding spot for players. Here adventurers can combat mysterious ancient weapon constructs that drop Elkar, a material that is needed to produce Elkar’s Crystal. This new type of crystal has All Accuracy +12 and Ignore All Resistance +10% effects and can be equipped on main weapons. Players will need a Black Spirit’s Claw to enter the Kratuga Ancient Ruins via Hystria Ancient Ruins and it is recommended that they have an AP of at least 250.

 

Source: Press Release

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Kakao Games is Publishing Path of Exile in Korea

Thanks to a newly inked agreement Kakao Games is publishing Path of Exile in Korea. The game has already been released globally but, in most cases where this kind of publishing deal takes place, it is about a lot more than just publishing the game. Localization, using local currencies, and local customer support are typically the reasons we see studios working with different publishers around the world. There’s also the fact that should there be any issues with gaming laws, like those in China, having someone who is already an expert in those laws on your side is a lot better than you bumbling in and hoping everything will be ok.

Thanks to their experience with Black Desert Online as well as publishing PUBG Kakao would already have connections and local workers in Korea to take on the challenges releasing Path of Exile in Korea present.

Path of Exile is one of the top played games on Steam and is beloved by its community. Despite being 6 years old the game is still going strong and will be releasing on PS4 in just a few days. Grinding Gear Games is already working with Tencent in Mainland China and Garena in Taiwan so this isn’t the first time they’ve worked with a publisher in the East. Though Tencent does have an 80% stake in the company.

Grinding Gear Games is one of those few internationally known studios based in New Zealand. Which is where the first ever ExileCon will be taking place this November. If New Zealand is a bit too far for you to travel for a game convention, don’t worry, the entire event will be streamed for free. More details on that are expected soon.

As for Kakao’s publishing of Path of Exile in Korea, right now there isn’t a time scale that has been made public. But, it has been said that a launch schedule will be announced at a later point.

 

Source: MMOCulture

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MMO Money: A Week of Lawsuits and Nintendo Being Awesome

Lawsuits abound this week in the online gaming world with both Activision Blizzard and Epic Games the focus of new lawsuits. Meanwhile, Nintendo gives us a much-needed breath of fresh air with how they treat gamers and their employees. Bidding for Nexon is set to begin in April with the list of bidders reduced to just 5. Find all of this and more in this week’s MMO Money.

 

Nexon Shortlists Five Bidders for the Company

There has been quite a lot of interest in Nexon recently from major companies around the world including Disney, EA, Comcast, Tencent, and many others. But, Nexon has now lowered that list to just 5 bidders. Those five include Tencent and Kakao Corp. along with three private equity firms, Bain Capital, MBK Partners, and an unidentified firm. Quite significantly Netmarble isn’t included in this list. Netmarble had been putting together a consortium of Korean firms to bid together, believing that selling to an overseas company will damage the local games industry. In fact, this may be why we don’t see any Western-based interests in the shortlist. Bidding for the 98.64% share of Nexon that is expected to be worth as much as $13.3 billion is expected to begin in early April.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Nintendo Asks Mobile Partners to Stop Players From Spending So Much

In a time when it seems like all game companies are after is your money Nintendo comes out and gives you a little bit of faith in the industry once more. The company is concerned with its self-image and has asked some of its mobile game development partners to adjust the microtransactions in their games so players are less likely to overspend. A source at CyberAgent, who owns the developers of Dragalia Lost told the Wall Street Journal, “Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game. If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”

This also comes less than a week after a recruitment page for Nintendo shed some light on what it’s like working for the company. The average salary is ¥9.03 million, that’s $80,000, employees can potentially get bonuses in June and December plus a pay increase every April. The average workday at Nintendo is seven hours and forty-five minutes long. As if all of that doesn’t already sound amazing full-time employees stay at the company for an average of 13.5 years. Anyone familiar with the games industry in the West will know that developers tend not to stay in one company for very long. If you’re interested in knowing more about that check out this article from Polygon.

From a personal point of view both of these pieces of news make me more likely to look at Nintendo games and support what they’re doing. Their views and the way they treat their employees is a breath of fresh air in the games industry today.

 

Source: Wall Street Journal, Games Industry

 

 

Vivendi Sells Remaining Ubisoft Shares

Ubisoft Joins Forces With Horror Movie Studio

Its been almost a year since Vivendi announced it was going to stop trying to acquire Ubisoft and finally the remaining shares it had in the company have been sold. The remaining shares it had was about 5% of the company, €429 million.

At one point in time, Vivendi owned a 27.3% stake in the company and though its attempts to own the company completely failed they did bring in about €2 billion, a capital gain of €1.2 billion. Though they failed to achieve their original goal you can hardly call the entire thing a failure. I’d love to fail my way to €2 billion, that’s about $2.2 billion USD. Vivendi has stated that they will honor their agreement and not buy shares in Ubisoft for at least 5 years.

Vivendi had previously owned Activision Blizzard but it sold the company to an investment group led by Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly for $8.2 billion. That deal pushed Vivendi out of the games industry for 3 years until it bought its way back in with a hostile takeover of Gameloft.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

A New Law firm is Encouraging Shareholders to Sue Activision Blizzard Over Bungie Split

Another law firm is inviting shareholders to join in a class action lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, accusing the company of misleading shareholders over the end of its partnership with Bungie. The firm’s loss submission form makes the following claims:

Activision failed to disclose that “the termination of Activision Blizzard and Bungie’s partnership… was imminent”

That this termination “would foreseeably have a significant negative impact on Activision Blizzard’s revenues.”

And as a result “Activision Blizzard’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all times.”

Activision Blizzard previously said that the split from Bungie was because Destiny 2 failed to meet financial expectations. But in a recent SEC filing, the company recognized $164 million in revenue from Destiny for 2018 as a result of the split.

This comes at a time when shareholders for Activision Blizzard aren’t too happy with the company. They’ve had to warn investors that cutting hundreds of jobs (800 in total) may damage the company. They even went so far as to say there can be “no assurance that our business will be more efficient or effective” than it was before this new strategy.

Why can’t you be more like Nintendo?

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Man Sues Epic Games Over Predatory Loot Boxes

While we’re on the topic of lawsuits we should mention that Epic Games is being sued, yet again. This time though it isn’t because they used a dance in their game, instead it’s over allegations that Epic Games has engaged in predatory schemes with loot boxes in Fortnite. They allege that Epic intentionally designed Save the World to hinder player’s progress if they didn’t spend real money. They also say that Epic has “made a fortune on in-game purchases, preying in large part on minors who are especially susceptible to such predatory tactics.” The lawsuit accuses Epic of violating California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law.

What the lawsuit doesn’t mention though is that since January Epic Games now shows the contents of loot llamas in Save the World before they’re purchased with V-Bucks. So it is possible that the lawsuit won’t go anywhere since they’ve already made changes to the areas that the lawsuit covers.

 

Source: Games Industry

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Pearl Abyss Fanfest “Into the Abyss” at E3 2018

Pearly Abyss had its first Fanfest called “Into the Abyss” at the Regal LA LIVE Stadium 14 during E3 2018. While I may not be a core Black Desert Online player, I’ve played the game for a few levels, kept up on some of the PvP news, and somehow was lucky enough to represent MMOGames at the festival this year. CEO Robin Jung hopes this will be one of many, as the company certainly wishes to grow beyond a single PC game.

Into the Abyss

Secrets Unleashed

One of the nice parts about the festival was that it wasn’t just the team giving itself a pat on the back. Yes, we were given some interesting information, like a representative from Samsung saying the mobile version of Black Desert Online is one of the top data-eaters on people’s cell phones in Korea, up there with Facebook, and it’s currently the #1 mobile MMO title (which means something there). The game has apparently been translated into 12 languages and is available in more than 150 countries. It’s neat information, but the series of collected fan questions answered was meatier.

For example, the company name: Pearl Abyss. The idea is that it’s light in the darkness. Something precious from the deep. However, it’s also just a “gorgeous name.” It’s funny to see the developers go from something serious and deep sounding to admitting that their name just had a nice ring to it.

For those wondering why the game isn’t big on instanced dungeons and raids, it’s because Pearl Abyss didn’t think they felt right. They actually had over a hundred dungeons before they realized they wanted a living game world in a persistent space. It wasn’t an executive decision, but something everyone had a chance to express their opinion about before they reached a consensus to ax their babies. It’s naturally hard to make a great game with a single “voice” with so many developers and so many of their own passions, but the fans come first. Hidden caves felt more fun than another static pocket in the world.

The other part here is that by talking these things out, the team can avoid repeating the same mistakes again and again. There’s a certain balance between realism and convenience that the team straddles, and communicating this and trying to keep everyone on the same page ensures that the company is developing content for its actual audience.

Raids are a similar issue. It’s not that outdoor raids are impossible to craft, but they’re certainly more difficult, which is why Pearl Abyss chooses to put manpower elsewhere. Like in its mobile game. While not exactly a 1-to-1 recreation of the original BDO, there’s enough in common that people who played on the PC should feel at home. The same idea is mostly true for the upcoming Xbox version of the game. I was told the console version is 99.9% the same in terms of familiar aspects of the game, like classes, attacks, fishing… the 0.1% is only to account for error, supposedly.

Part of this includes the fact that the game needed a control and UI overhaul. While it’s physically possible to just shove the console players together with PC fans, it creates problems. Using the PC UI on consoles would be rough, much like with mobile being, well, literally smaller. Changes need to be made not just to fit the machine, but audience expectations. For example, you can’t maximize text windows outside of the PC game, but looting is handled differently. PC gamers have their mouse and incredibly versatile keyboard of many buttons. Phones have a small touch screen while console has buttons. While you could just have a lot of combos, changing the UI to do things like having an option wheel helps greatly. Sadly, it’s not enough to close the advantage gap between PC gamers and console controllers, so don’t expect to see cross-platform play.

However, Pearl Abyss also said they want the game to be available on every platform. No names were dropped, but it’s not like there are too many consoles to imagine (unless Pearl Abyss also wants to create games for pagers). Focusing on the present, however, you’ll have to remember that Black Desert Online isn’t launching on the Xbox One, it’s starting a beta this fall. That beta is there because the team knows there are bugs to fish, optimizations to make, and a UI to tweak, all based on what players find in the beta. That’s what it’s there for! The hope is that the beta won’t last too long, but it seems to have an understandable goal even an EA leery vet like myself can appreciate at face value.

Console is just another long arm of Black Desert though. While this will be the third platform for the game, the team does feel their world has so much more it can share. There are some ideas and projects related to spinoffs that would also take place in the Black Desert world, but there was nothing specific to mention at the time. With that in mind though, the team also doesn’t want to pigeonhole itself. They’re working with Counter-Strike co-creator Minh Le to create an unnamed FPS. We’ll have to wait and see where that goes in the future.

Hands-on With Black Desert’s Mobile Self

To be completely fair, I really haven’t enjoyed any core mobile MMOs. The genre generally doesn’t feel like it lends itself well to the smaller screen for me. I dislike the 2.5 perspective they use. Automating a lot of the work is boring. Black Desert’s mobile version does a lot of this but, somehow, works. Part of it may be because our characters were pre-leveled and equipped. Spamming buttons made things die, and that can be highly satisfying sometimes, especially when you’re feeling casual.

In the video, we saw group content, farming, pets, and other very “MMOy” activities. We were told we’d have guilds, 20vs20 guild wars, and duals in shared gameworlds. No asynchronous lies, but actual multiplayer. And I saw it, at least in 1v1 duels. Win or lose, several of us gave up some gourmet sounding food to just smash buttons and kill our digital co-festival-goers for far longer than we reasonably needed to in order to get a basic feel for the game. It’s embarrassing to write that, but true.

Unlike in the above picture, everything I saw was in understandable English, though admittedly I was mostly doing combat. You move with a virtual left control stick, then attack via “hotkeys” on the right-hand side, with dodge being in the lower left-hand side. It doesn’t feel precise at all, but attacks felt wild and wide enough to mostly hit the general area I wanted to be hitting anyway. I did a little gathering for fun, but no major quests, crafting, or anything non-combat, which is generally my focus. It could be the lack of sleep, but the spammy attacks were fun enough for a while, and I started to “wake up” and play for real after some of the other attendees started to get some wins against me. I think that’s a good sign.

Normally I’d be more cautious but one big thing struck me: the game was running live. On servers in Korea. This wasn’t something running off a local version of the game, which happens a lot at trade shows (online games really do get the shaft when it comes to showing themselves off in public displays). This was a specific build, yes, but a build populated with at least some other people. We could interact with each other (even if it was mostly murder). It just kind of clicked.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you all to get ready to download BDO Mobile when it (hopefully) comes out next year. I will say, however, that Pearl Abyss was wise to bring it, and that players should consider giving it chance, especially if they’re already enjoying Pearl Abyss’ world

 

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MMO Money: Mobile Revenue is Breaking Records

Quarterly report season, it’s exciting and a little bit brain melting. In between it all we’ve got other business news to talk about too including esports betting and more lootbox drama. We also get a real-world example of what can happen to a company’s stock when an embargo is broken and false information is released. There’s one theme that runs throughout this article, mobile revenue is breaking records all over the place. There’s a lot of information to digest in this week’s MMO Money so grab a drink, maybe a snack too and sit back for a wild ride. It all ends with more lootbox talk from Begium, Guild Wars 2’s game director, and everyone’s favorite…EA.

 

PUBG Mobile Revenue Only 1/3 Fornite iOS Revenue

Mobile Revenue is Breaking Records

While PUBG mobile and Fortnite iOS came onto the scene at roughly the same time back in March, PUBG has only started to monetize in the last week. The revenue for that first week isn’t amazing. In fact, it’s one third the revenue Fortnite got in its first week being on iOS only. For those who don’t know, PUBG is available on both Android and iOS. Fortnite generated 3.7 million dollars its first week on mobile compared to PUBG which comes in around $1 million.

The report from Sensor Tower also states that Fortnite beat out PUBG with fewer players, 3.7 million downloads vs 22 million. But it doesn’t show how many of those 22 million downloads since launch are still active PUBG players, so this isn’t really a fair comparison to make. The 3.7 million Fortnite players would have all been active at some point in that week simply because it was the very first week, and not a couple of months later. Randy Nelson, Head of Mobile Insights at Sensor Tower attributes the differences to the means of monetization. “There’s also the possibility that the way Epic Games has structured its purchases may be giving Fortnite a leg up on its biggest competitor,” he said. “It offers limited-time costumes and set daily items that players can purchase outright, as opposed PUBG Mobile’s primary use of loot boxes that produce random (and often duplicate) items when opened by players.”

 

Activision-Blizzard Q1

They’re winning all of the money. End of story.

Overwatch Retribution Event - McCree and Reaper

Kidding…well sort of. They really are winning all the money. Activision-Blizzard had a net revenue of $1.97 billion for Q1, that’s up from $1.73 billion for Q1 2017. Net revenue from digital channels were at an all-time quarterly record of $1.46 billion. In Q1, Activision Blizzard had 374 million monthly active users, 38 million of those coming from Blizzard games. Preorders for WoW’s Battle for Azeroth expansion are ahead of where they had originally forecast.

The Overwatch League has strong viewership globally, reaching millions of people every week. As a result of the league and the upcoming playoffs, this summer there is increased engagement with the franchise. This means more people are playing and watching for longer than previously.

On the mobile side of things, King has had its highest quarterly net bookings in history. That’s money made from merchandising, products sold, licensing fees, and so on. This quarter King also had 2 of the top 10 highest-grossing titles in US mobile app stores for the 18th quarter in a row.

Generally speaking, things are great for Activision-Blizzard, so much so that they’re raising their outlook for the full year.

 

German Mobile Game Revenue Seeing Explosive Growth

Thanks to the many articles we’ve done covering the 2017 games business scene we know that mobile is still growing in a massive way and is already really dominating the gaming industry. But there’s one market in particular that is seeing massive, unexpected growth: Germany.

The German Games Industry Association reported on data from market research company GfK that in 2017, mobile gaming revenue grew faster than all of the German gaming market. Mobile gaming sales rose 21% versus the overall market which saw only 15%. Most of the revenue came from in-app purchases which totaled €481 million ($569 million). Just to put all of this in perspective, in-app purchases have more than doubled since 2014. It also doesn’t look like things are going to slow down any time soon. What this does show is that Germans are a fantastic audience for mobile games, unlike most of Europe who seem to prefer to keep a tight hold on their wallets.

 

Want to learn more about the games industry in 2017 check out these articles:

2017 Online Games Financial Review
2017 Games Industry by the Numbers
2017 Games Industry Revenue

EA Celebrating Record Year

It’s good news for EA, despite all the very public lockbox drama they had throughout the last year. Game sales are actually down, but live services are picking up the slack and now make up 40% of the publisher’s income. For the full year, EA’s net revenue was up 6.2% to $5.15 billion. But the news that most people were really hoping to hear was about Anthem and EA did not disappoint, saying that Anthem is set to ship in the last month of the last quarter of the year, that gives it a launch date in March 2019. During the call, they also talked a bit about lockboxes, but we’ll go into more detail on that in the section dedicated to all things lootbox.

 

Dow Jones Reporting Problem

Dow Jones News Service broke embargo and false information was released ahead of Activision-Blizzard’s quarterly report call. This information caused Activision-Blizzard’s stock to tumble, as well as stock for EA and Take-Two. Activision-Blizzard suffered a 6.3% drop, but within a couple of hours the correct information was published and in the end, Activision-Blizzard closed down 2.3%. Afterward, Dow Jones issued a statement saying, “We regret our error as well as inadvertently breaking the embargo. We have issued a correction and are reviewing our processes.”

 

Tencent Q1

Have you had enough with all the good news yet? Well here’s some more for you. Tencent is reporting a 48% increase in revenue year on year. Most of this has been driven by mobile games and social platforms. Total revenue for the quarter was $11.69 billion with operating profit at $4.88 billion. Smartphone game revenue increased 68%. This includes both mobile games and social games on their social media platforms like QQ, which has 805.5 million active users. Facebook is at 2.2 billion, just in case you’re wondering.

On the PC gaming front, revenue remained fairly flat year on year. But with new titles expected in the coming months, Tencent has said this will change. The company also attributes the lack of significant revenue increase on more and more people making the transition to mobile gaming. Tencent is going to be responsible for releasing PUBG and Fortnite to China, assuming they get government approval. They’re also going to publish Ubisoft mobile and PC games in China. So, the future is looking bright for this monster of a company.

 

Boss Key Saga

By now you’ve almost certainly heard about the saga of Boss Key. The company shut down this week just a month after putting a new game up on Steam Early Access. If you haven’t heard all of the drama, or you haven’t seen the concept art from the games they never got to make there’s an entire article on the Boss Key saga.

 

Pearl Abyss Q1

Pearl Abyss had a record first quarter thanks to mobile games. Are you starting to see the same pattern we are? Net profits are up a massive 82.9% compared with the same period last year. Much of their success is thanks to releasing Black Desert Mobile in Korea. North America and Europe account for 56% of Black Desert Online’s game sales. Coming up, the company is working on MMOFPS Project K, casual mobile MMO Project V, and Black Desert Mobile is going to expand to more regions of the world. You can expect it to reach the West sometime next year.

 

Kakao IPO

Black Desert Online

Speaking of Black Desert Online’s performance, we need to talk about Kakao Games, the publisher of BDO in the west. They’re preparing an IPO on the KOSDAQ in Korea. If it passes the screening required, it will most likely go public by the end of this year. According to Samsung Securities, Kakao is worth an estimated $1.4 billion. In addition to BDO, they’re also responsible for publishing PUBG in Korea and developing mobile games.

 

NCSoft Q1

All of NCSoft’s games are down this quarter with the exception of Aion. Guild Wars 2, the company’s most popular game in the west saw a massive, though entirely expected drop. Q4 2017 is where all the revenue for the game’s last expansion Path of Fire was at, so while there was a 32% drop quarter on quarter, year on year there was actually a 66% increase.

During the investor call, NCSoft admitted that Blade & Soul II for mobile has been delayed until 2019 because it didn’t meet expectations. It has a new team and a redesign which is the same thing they did for Lineage Eternal.

 

Nexon Q1

Finally, we’re at the last quarterly report that has been released as of this moment, Nexon. Much like many of the companies already mentioned in this article, Nexon has a strong showing this quarter with $827 million in revenue. That’s up 21% year on year. One thing that really makes them stand out from other companies is that most of its business, 84% of it in fact, was on PC. The vast majority of Nexon’s earnings came from China (67%) and Korea (22%) while North America accounted for just 4%. Later on this year in the west we can expect to see Durango, Maplestory 2, Maplestory M, and Final Fantasy XI mobile.

 

Esports

You can expect to see esports betting blossom thanks to a ruling by the US Supreme Court. They effectively overturned the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which banned sports betting in all but a few states. The Supreme Court ruled that PAPSA violated the Tenth Amendment. What does this mean for esports betting? It means we’re going to see it a whole lot more. DraftKings have already got plans to move into betting for sports and esports.

In other esports news Quarterback Inc. has raised 2.5 million dollars in its initial seed funding round. The funding will go towards continued development and growth of Quarterback’s esports gaming platform. The seed round was back by Bitkraft Esports, Crest Capital Ventures, Deep Space Ventures, and UpWest Labs.

 

Lootboxes

Finally, we end this article as we always do with a look at what has been going on around the lootbox controversy in the last two weeks. The biggest news has been that the Belgian Gaming Commission released their full report on the controversy. The report itself is 25 pages long and in English, if you want to give it a read, but the most important thing to take from it is that they recommend criminal prosecution being initiated. Another recommendation that they give is age verification and banning the sale of games featuring loot boxes to minors. Wow.

Gamasutra posted an interview with Guild Wars 2 game director Crystin Cox from GDC that touched on the lootbox controversy that is well worth a read as she had a lot to say. She had a hard time defining what an ethical, non-painful lootbox experience might be like and she also said she hopes the government doesn’t get involved in regulation. Guild Wars 2 was specifically mentioned in a recent article here on MMOGames talking about a site that explains microtransactions for games. Guild Wars 2 has frequently been called out by players for their lootbox practices.

Lastly, as promised there is EA news to talk about. EA is adamant that lootboxes aren’t gambling at all. Why? Well, according to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, it’s because players always get a specified number of items and there’s no way to cash the items out or sell them for currency, real or virtual. This argument is a bit like Santa promising you’ll get 5 things for Christmas and on Christmas morning finding out that 3 of them are lumps of coal, one is a gum wrapper, and the other is reindeer droppings. You still got something though!

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MMO Money: Breaking Records and Taking Names

Grand Theft Auto V makes the news, there have been fines for shady lootbox practices, and the digital games industry is still climbing. You’ll be able to find all of this plus more Fortnite news than you can shake a stick at in today’s MMO Money, the biweekly column that takes a look at online gaming industry business news from around the world.

 

GTA V is the Most Profitable

With $6 billion in revenue since it launched in 2013, GTA V is the most profitable piece of entertainment of all time. That’s more than Avatar brought in at the theater and more than Michael Jackson made with Thriller. It owes at least some of its longevity to the online multiplayer gameplay. The fact that it has been released on two generations of consoles is also a big boost for the game, as many players would have bought it twice. Want to know more? Check out what we said about it in a recent news post.

 

Superdata’s February Research

Just a day after the last MMO Money went live Superdata released their regular look at the month before for the games industry. You’ll never guess which games were the most talked about. Oh, did you guess Fortnite and PUBG? I guess it was kind of obvious, as that’s all anyone is talking about these days! Fortnite was the 6th highest grossing game in February on PC and the 3rd highest on console. It’s also still climbing, so don’t think we’re at the peak yet. Tencent’s mobile game QQ Speed has become one of the fastest climbing mobile titles, it launched in December and is already in the number two spot.

Digital spending in the US is up 21%. Most of that growth is from console spending. And yes, Fortnite is to thank for some of that as well. Also, social games and pay to play games are still shrinking year on year. The good news though is that the digital game market has grown 6% in the last year to $9.1 billion.

 

Bluehole Announces Record Year

It won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone to learn that Bluehole, the folks behind TERA and a little unknown game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds had a record-breaking year in 2017. Their revenue for the year was approximately $631 million with $240 million in profit. Much of the company’s success is thanks to PUBG, which sold over 30 million copies in their first year since launch.

 

Fortnite Mobile Revenue Exceeds $15 Million in Less Than a Month

Since dropping the invite-only requirement, Fortnite Mobile has seen a massive spike in popularity. Daily revenue is at $1.8 million, making me think that I’m in the wrong business. It’s in the iOS top ten in 23 countries. All of this is only going to get bigger when Fortnite Mobile eventually releases on Android.

 

Netmarble Invests in K-Pop Label

online gaming industry business news

Netmarble is now the second largest shareholder in Big Hit, the label behind one of the biggest K-Pop acts at the moment, BTS. They announced back in February that they were working on a game based on the band called BTS World. They’ve invested around $190 million USD. They’ve also announced that as part of their big push into the West they’re moving their US office to Los Angeles. Their US office is currently in Buena Park, which is near Anaheim. So, for anyone who doesn’t live in Southern California the change is pretty insignificant in terms of distance. For anyone wondering, it’s 22 miles which is anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour away when driving.

 

Pokemon Go Fest Lawsuit Settled for $1.6 Million

pokemon go fest

Niantic is going to reimburse travel costs for those who traveled to Pokemon Go Fest last year in Chicago. This includes airfare, hotel costs, and car rentals, amongst other things. To qualify for a reimbursement you need to have checked in on the app at the festival and if you’re claiming more than $107 in expenses you must provide receipts. Niantic was quick to apologize after the disastrous event and at the time promised to refund tickets as well as give $100 worth of in-game currency and a legendary Pokemon. But the event was much more popular than they expected so tickets, which were originally selling for $20 were getting scalped for as much as $500. Fans traveled from all over the world to attend the event, something which will easily be more than $107. So, the lesson here is to always save those receipts.

 

Kakao Gets $9.42 million Investment

online gaming industry business news

Chinese developer Shanda Games has invested $9.42 million in Kakao Games. This was done through their Korean subsidiary Actoz Soft who Kakao is currently working with to launch Dragon Nest. This is just the latest in a series of investments made by companies in Kakao ahead of a planned IPO. Other investments recently have been from companies like Netmarble and Tencent. It isn’t clear yet when this IPO is going to happen, at the moment it’s thought to be happening sometime in 2018.

 

Lootbox Fines Handed out in South Korea

Sudden Attack

South Korea is the hero we all wish we had in our gaming lives. They’re handing out fines for dishonest lootbox practices, showing the world how things should be. They’ve handed out fines to Nexon, Netmarble, and Next Floor so far. In all, the three companies were fined nearly a million dollars combined, with the biggest fine going to Nexon for $875,000. What games did Nexon get hit for? You may be wondering, they were Sudden Attack and Counter-Strike Online 2. Specifically, the companies were fined for deceiving players and not providing accurate odds for winning any particular prize in a lootbox. Who is Next Floor? I had to look up the answer to this question myself. It would seem that they make mobile and social games in South Korea, including Dragon Flight, Destiny Child, World of Tactics, and Knights of Clan, as well as a few others. Right now we have our fingers crossed that these fines catch on around the world.

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North America to Receive Updated Black Desert Servers

Today, Kakao Games announced that Black Desert Online will be switching service providers to Level 3 Communications on April 25, 2018.

black desert servers

 

Typically, the service provider that an MMORPG utilizes is of little concern to its users, but the North American player base of Black Desert Online has been asking for a change since the game’s launch back in 2016. It seems that their requests have finally been acknowledged, and BDO will switch from LeaseWeb to Level 3 Communications at the end of April.

The change is expected to take place on April 25 during a 10-hour maintenance, however, there is always the possibility of delays or an extended maintenance period. Kakao made the following statement:

“Our goal is to increase the overall connection stability experienced by players for both Europe and North America regions. Measures were taken with the North America servers due to the inordinately high number of incidents causing disruptions to our service. We intend to apply further measures in the future in a manner that permits our team sufficient time to monitor and analyze the effects of these changes.”

Our Thoughts

We’re ecstatic about this news as an update to the BDO servers was one of the most frequent requests among players on forums and in-game. LeaseWeb has earned a fairly poor reputation among hosting services, and so far it seems like Level 3 Communications is going to be a tangible improvement. We just hope the transition is smooth and players receive a better overall experience.

Source. Kakao

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Kakao Games Lands $131M in Investor Funding

It would appear that there are a lot of companies in South Korea who are hedging their bets in favor of Kakao Games. Five different investors have provided the game developer with a huge sum of cash, including giant companies like Tencent and Bluehole.

kakao games

A total of five different companies have slapped Kakao Games with their wallets: Netmarble, two of Tencent’s subsidiaries, Bluehole Studios, Premier Growth-M&A PEF, and Actozsoft. The investment amounts range between 10 billion won to 50 billion won, for a grand total of 100 billion won, or $131.6 million.

The investment funds appear to be part of a greater strategy that Kakao wants to put into place, which involves the acquisition of other game developers for continued Western expansion as described back in January. The funding was also described as being part of a strategic partnership, referencing work with Tencent and Bluehole to release PUBG in China and Actozsoft’s Dragon Nest.

“The latest investment proves our partners appreciate our growth potential,” says Kakao Games CEO Namkoong Hon.

Our Thoughts

Combined with the designs of Ascent: Infinite Realm, it would appear that Kakao Games is doubling down on its expansion efforts. We’re very curious to learn what this investment money will mean in terms of game releases…but can we get some more details about A:IR first? Please?

Source: The Investor via GamesIndustry

Articles Related to This Story

Kakao CEO: Ascent: Infinite Realm’s Success is a Path to Global Growth
Black Desert Online Begins its Global Costume Design Contest
These Are the Machines of Ascent: Infinite Realm

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Kakao CEO: Ascent: Infinite Realm’s Success is a Path to Global Growth

Some days you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. That might be the case for Ascent: Infinite Realm as Kakao CEO Min Kim from Kakao’s Europe division is eyeballing the upcoming MMO’s Western success as a vehicle for the company to become a more recognized brand outside of Korea.

kakao ceo

In an interview with GamesIndustry, Kim admitted that Kakao’s aspirations for expansion didn’t really take root until the Western release of Black Desert Online and its subsequent success in the market, which saw the title rake in $300M in September last year.

To that effect, Kim is looking to A:IR as the stepping stone to not only growing Kakao Games recognition, but also as a means for the company to acquire Western developers – a path that would be new to them as they have only worked with Korean developers up to this point.

“Once A:IR is successful, I want to consider acquiring developers in Western markets. It is not the moment right now to mention what kind of company we want to be, or the same as that level [Blizzard]. I want to set up the basics as a global publisher first, to focus on sustainability. The most important thing is that the fundamental elements as a global publisher should be set”

By the same token, Kim also stated that acquisition is perhaps easier said than done, as previous Western developers were considered but got acquired by other companies. To that end, creating an IP specifically for Western audiences may be the only way to go.

Incidentally, the interview mentions that Ascent: Infinite Realm isn’t targeted for a full release until sometime in 2019.

Our Thoughts

It should be noted that in the interview, Kim did seem to be a sort of dam between the accelerated plans of Kakao’s Korean headquarters and the Western world, so we don’t suspect that A:IR’s devs are being pressganged to make the game release as fast as possible. Regardless, it would appear that Ascent: Infinite Realm’s release to the West has perhaps more stakes going for it than initially thought.

Source: GamesIndustry

Articles Related to Ascent: Infinite Realm

Here’s Some Footage of an Ascent: Infnite Realm Dungeon Run
These Are the Machines of Ascent: Infinite Realm
Ascent: Infinite Realm Showcases PvP Combat from G-Star

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Bluehole to Reveal New PC MMORPG, Project W at G-Star 2017

Thanks to our friends over at MMOCulture we now know that Bluehole, the folks behind TERA and the insanely popular Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds will be revealing Project W at G-Star 2017. We’ve been following this project since it was first announced back in November 2016.

 

What we know about Project W So Far

It is an MMORPG for PCs being developed by industry veteran Hyung-Jun Kim, most famous for his work with NCSoft.

Most notably Bluehole is not publishing it in North America and Europe through their Western subsidiary, En Masse Entertainment. Instead, they will be working with Kakao, the makers of Black Desert Online. In Japan, it will be published by GameOn.

It will be powered by Unreal Engine 3.

The W in Project W is meant to stand for ‘World’.

Bluehole have shot down the rumors that a TERA sequel is in the works.

A studio rep has said that the game’s combat will be quite different from TERA and will also combine social and strategic features. Though this was in 2014 so it is possible that this isn’t the case anymore or they were talking about another title altogether.

There have been job listings for Project W throughout 2017, including one currently up for a Business Product Manager that speaks both Korean and Japanese.

 

As you can see there really isn’t a whole lot of information available yet. While many may have forgotten all about this briefly announced secret project it certainly hasn’t been forgotten. Early on after it was first announced many in the public assumed the title would be released in 2018. If this were the case, however, there would be a lot more information out about the game. If the hiring that they’ve been doing over the last year is any indication when it was announced in 2016 the project was still in its early days.

Now we have a single image to go along with the codename. The image itself may be a bit on the small side but it looks gorgeous. It gives off a little bit of a steampunk vibe with the scenery, the weapons being used, and what appears to be a machine gun with legs. The image has appeared on exhibitor list for G-Star.

 

G-Star 2017 will run from November 16th to the 19th. It is possible that the studio will hold a press conference in the days leading up to G-Star, this is a popular thing to do for this convention, especially when there are big announcements being made. With that in mind, MMOGames will be watching Bluehole closely to keep an eye out for any new information as it gets released. It’s only a month until we find out more about Project W at G-Star 2017

 

Source: MMOCulture, G-Star 2017

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